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The History of the Official World Cup Song (Waka Waka)

Updated on July 14, 2010


Colombian superstar Shakira is the singer behind the official FIFA 2010 Football World Cup Song called "Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)". Despite some criticism from South Africans that the official song would be better represented by a South African artist, the "Waka Waka" has become extremely popular. It's one of those catchy tunes that will grow on you and you'll soon find yourself singing along.

To honour the hosts of the FIFA Football World Cup, Shakira did indeed collaborate with South African group Freshly Ground. But it's the Cameroonian roots of the song that have had the internet buzzing. The chorus of the song is borrowed from a huge 1986 hit called "Zangaléwa" by a makossa group called Golden Sounds.

The original song has these lyrics:

Zaminamina oh oh
Waka waka eh eh
Zaminamina zangalewa
Anawam ah ah

Apparently, this song was brought to Cartagena, Colombia by West African DJs between 1988 and 1989 and likewise became an instant hit in that nation. There it was known as "The Military" due to the photograph on the cover of the album, where members of The Golden Sounds appeared dressed in military uniforms. 

No doubt this is where Shakira first came in to contact with this song.

Shakira's "WAKA WAKA" Lyrics

You're a good soldier
Choosing your battles
Pick yourself up
And dust yourself off
And back in the saddle

You're on the front line
Everyone's watching
You know it's serious
We're getting closer
This isn't over

The pressure is on
You feel it
But you've got it all
Believe it

When you fall get up
Oh oh...
And if you fall get up
Oh oh...

Tsamina mina
'Cos this is Africa

Tsamina mina eh eh
Waka Waka eh eh

Tsamina mina zangalewa
Anawa aa
This time for Africa

Listen to your god
This is our motto
Your time to shine
Don't wait in line
Y vamos por Todo

People are raising
Their Expectations
Go on and feed them
This is your moment
No hesitations

Today's your day
I feel it
You paved the way
Believe it

If you get down
Get up Oh oh...
When you get down
Get up eh eh...

Tsamina mina zangalewa
Anawa aa
This time for Africa

Tsamina mina eh eh
Waka Waka eh eh

Tsamina mina zangalewa
Anawa aa

Tsamina mina eh eh
Waka Waka eh eh
Tsamina mina zangalewa
This time for Africa

The original "Zangaléwa"

The original version was first produced in Cameroon by a group called "Golden Sounds" and was such a hit that the group even changed their name to Zangaléwa. Golden Sounds was made up of members of the Presidential Guard: Emile Kojidie, Victor Dooh Belley and group leader Ze Bella.

They wore funny costumes and make up - including pillows to accentuate their butts and bellies - which was apparently a stab at the army general "fat cats" who collaborated with the white colonialists to enrich themselves.

The band was well-known and produced army marching songs that became very popular. Zangaléwa, in particular, was their defining song.

According to the Spanish wikipedia entry: "This song is a priori language interpreted Fang, corresponding to areas of Gabon, southern Cameroon in Equatorial Guinea and a little east of the Central Africa."

The argument goes that "Za engalomwa" in the Fang language means “Who sent you?” and this is the refrain of a Cameroonian soldier to his fellow troops. The term Zangaléwa has also come from an expression in Ewondo: "Loé wa za anga?"  translated as “Who called you?” Since Cameroon is multilingual and not all the soldiers could speak Ewondo, it is likely that over time the term wa za anga Loé became the Zangaléwa that we know today in a form of pidgin language corruption.

According to a member of the band, when young recruits of the Republican Guard complained about the rigours of military life, their senior officers would ask: Loé wa za anga?, which would ask: "Who made you join the army?"

Hence, the lyrics of "Waka Waka" would mean:

Zaminamina oh oh - Come, Come
Waka waka eh eh - Waka waka means "Do it". Waka meaning "walk while working".
Zaminamina zangalewa - Come, who sent you?
Anawam ah ah - Yes, I did

At the time of Shakira's release of the song, the Golden Sounds group leader, Ze Bella - who had retired from the military in 2002 after 30 years service and was now living in his village in Cameroon - then got a call from an acquaintance in France informing him that Shakira had just released a version of Zangalewa. He declared that while they were proud that a “world music icon” had remixed their song as the World Cup anthem, they nonetheless expected to be properly credited and adequately compensated.

Apparently, FIFA, Sony and Shakira have come to an out of court settlement amount and all sides are now happy.

The original song as sung by Golden Sounds

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      Karito 3 years ago

      Nice post, You just forgot to mention that the original Waka Waka song it's from Venezuelan group Chicas del Can (Original song name: El negro no puede) I'm not sure when was the song released but it was between 1982-1989.

    • profile image

      Karito 3 years ago

      Nice post, You just forgot to mention that the original Waka Waka song it's from Venezuelan group Chicas del Can (Original song name: El negro no puede) I'm not sure when was the song released but it was between 1982-1989.

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      Stefin 3 years ago

      Very nice

    • profile image

      ReageanyVax 4 years ago

      Hey guys just wanted to tell you all about my new blog, its all about how to make money fast, so if you have 2 minuites have a quick read and tell me what you think. read this

    • profile image

      Futamarka 4 years ago

      Риски. Побочные эффекты отбеливания зубов: Химические ожоги отбеливающим гелем - при высокой концентрации окислителя его контакты с незащищенными тканями могут вызвать обесцвечивание или ожог слизистых оболочек.

    • profile image

      karAbubsese 4 years ago

      When i employed to receive high on life although recently I've established a resistance.

    • profile image

      briana pintor 5 years ago

      I love this song it's awsome ya ya ya ya I love to dance to it too XD

    • profile image

      Tessy Ophen 7 years ago

      Always the nice and good...

    • profile image

      Tessy-k 7 years ago


    • profile image

      Sutmundo 7 years ago

      There is a Dominican girl band called "las chicas del can" who claim to be the first ones to release it comercially in 1982. The song is called "el negro no puede" and it was very popular ( and still is...) across latin america. Wilfrido Vargas who is the creator behind the group, and a merengue legend in his own right has mentioned a possible lawsuit. Here is a link to a post i did explaining it all.

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      Tosyn 7 years ago

      ONE,d song is tight,trust shakira she is unique.She sounded like an african...Tnx cattleprod 4 dis page.

    • profile image

      Alua uchenna 7 years ago

      I really like the song.didn't really know the lyrics of the one in the late 80s but this sound good.

    • profile image

      Tessy Ophen 7 years ago

      I like this song,every where I go I just hear peopld singin ''waka waka'' and it truly shows that anybody likes it.

    • Cattleprod Media profile image

      Cattleprod Media 7 years ago from Johannesburg

      Thanks Helgah! Neither did we, so we went in search of the origins of the song, thus leading to this hub. I hope more people get to learn about it so that the original African artists can get credit.

    • profile image

      Helgah Sawe 7 years ago

      I dint knw anythng bout waka waka,nw i knw!